By the time Vai was attending Berklee college of music in '78, pretty much his whole arsenal of technique was already being taught to the masses. There's a slew of staggering guitarists that hit the scene in the early '80s, and I was wondering if maybe Randy Rhoads who hit the scene in '72 might have been at least in the running. When Hendrix brought his huge slab of guitar pedagogy to the scene there were other players in Jazz with some of his technique, not so much in Rock, and overall nobody with as much guitar power, and the whole package had never been seen before. Vai brought a great package of stuff, but all of it had been seen before. Refining what you were trained to do in music college is a whole lot easier to do than inventing a bunch of new stuff in such quantity that the best players of your era are blown away. And while Vai's contemporaries were certainly impressed by his refined skills and taste, they could easily understand exactly what he was doing. Even in the '60s there were players like Larry Coryell doing more Rock oriented blisteringly fast highly developed playing, not falling all that short of today's standards. So, what did Vai bring that nobody had seen before? EVH had already refined the whammy bar concept into pretty much what it is today, and Malmsteens first album came out the year Vai started music school, 1978. Rhoads had already been touring for years and been signed by CBS in '76. So Vai was just another bozo on the bus of prodigy students aping what they learned in school. He was a great transcriber, because he learned by transcription, not by invention. IMO the thing that set Hendrix apart was that so much of what he brought had no precedent; had never been seen before; was not being taught in music school. When he died he was still so much in the middle of inventing, that he had really only refined and perfected a small portion of his accomplishments. Almost as if he was studying and practicing in front of audiences. Yeah, he was a mess. But he changed guitar playing more than just a handful of players, most of whom came before him; bearing in mind that the electric guitar is the newest musical instrument of our times. When I moved to Boston in '84 to make my name in music (HA!!), I often shopped at the music store across the street from Berklee. It was impossible to try out gear without getting into a cutting contest. All sizes shapes and colors of guitar player seemed to sound exactly the same, and were pretty much staggeringly good (or they made no sound). No disrespect for the hard work they put in, but these players were cranked out of the machine like eggs from a carton or cookies from Keebler. Fun times!